Asking the time in German

In this lesson we find out about how to ask and tell the time. Asking someone the time is a great ice-breaker question, even if you don't really need to know the time! And what's more, asking the time is simple in German. All you need to ask is:

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Wieviel Uhr ist es?
What time is it? (Lit: How much hour is it?)
  • Time

You could also ask

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Wie spät ist es?
How late is it?

If you wish to ask a stranger for the time in a more polite way, you could say

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Können Sie mir bitte sagen wie spät es ist?
Could you please tell me what time it is?

The answer will start with Es ist…. It is…

Zum Beispiel

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Es ist neun Uhr
It is nine o’clock (9:00)
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Es ist drei Uhr
It is three o’clock (3:00)

Talking about Quarter Hours and Thirty Minutes

You can also tell the time in 15- or 30-minute chunks.

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viertel
15 min / quarter
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viertel vor
quarter to
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viertel nach
quarter past
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halb
30 min / half

Zum Beispiel

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Es ist viertel nach zwei
It’s a quarter past two (2:15)
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Es ist halb zwei
It’s half past one (1:30)

The sentence “Es ist halb zwei” literally translates as "it is half two". In German half two “halb zwei” means half way to two, or 1.30. Let’s have a look at some more examples

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Es ist halb vier
It’s half past three (3:30)
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Es ist halb zehn
It’s half past nine (9:30)
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Es ist viertel vor vier
It’s a quarter to four (3:45)
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Es ist viertel nach fünf
It’s a quarter past five (5:15)
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Es ist viertel nach sieben
It’s a quarter past seven (7:15)

You can also tell how much time remains until striking the hour:

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Es ist fünf vor drei
It’s five to three (2:55)
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Es ist zehn vor fünf
It’s ten to five (4:50)

Use the word “nach” past, to tell how many minutes past the full hour it is.

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Es ist fünf nach zwei
It’s five past two (2:05)
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Es ist zwanzig nach vier
It’s twenty past four (4:20)

Testing!

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"Overall, it is simply a wonderful German language learning tool, and one that is very easy and fun to use. "Sehr gute Arbeit! Auf Wiedersehen!""

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Jeffrey Linden

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"Overall, it is simply a wonderful German language learning tool, and one that is very easy and fun to use. "Sehr gute Arbeit! Auf Wiedersehen!""

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Wirklich toll! The only area which I would critique is in connection with pronunciation. Paul's pronunciation is very clear. Nik's is rather Australian. The interactive pronunciation test really appears just to graph speech volume and phrasing rather than the accuracy of your pronunciation itself. You have to compare the recording of your own voice and evaluate for yourself how close your pronunciation is to that of the tutor. That could lead to the repetition of mistakes if your pronunciation goes uncorrected. They could improve this by focusing more on pronunciation, including how pronunciation varies according to regional dialect. I have no doubt that Rocket will improve this over time. Overall, it is simply a wonderful German language learning tool, and one that is very easy and fun to use. "Sehr gute Arbeit! Auf Wiedersehen!"


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"What I like about Rocket German is "throwing" you into the language and having to speak real German in real conversations. I really like the new dashboard, it makes it much easier to follow my progres"

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Rocket German is one part of my tools to learn German. What I like about Rocket German is "throwing" you into the language and having to speak real German in real conversations. I really like the new dashboard, it makes it much easier to follow my progress and have gone back to pickup those areas I missed or was weak in.


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